Thursday, February 16, 2006


VIA The Seattle P-I, John K. Wiley of AP provides an interesting if incomplete analysis of one of Washington’s biggest cash crops:

“Pot edges cherries in value as a state agricultural product”

“The estimated $270 million value of the plants seized in 2005 ranked just above sweet cherries, which were valued at $242 million in 2004, and just below the $329 million the state's nurseries and greenhouses produced. Apples are the state's No. 1 agricultural commodity, bringing $962.5 million in 2004.”… “This is the seventh year in a row that record numbers of marijuana plants have been seized and destroyed statewide, the State Patrol said.”

Of course, the valuation is SWAG: The estimate is based on a standard one pound per plant and $2,000 per pound for the 135,323 plants seized. Yet the growth of seizures suggests interdiction aside, there is a healthy, even thriving marijuana economy here in The Evergreen State.

Thriving to an extent that staggers the imagination…

A few doodles:

The DEA has in the past estimated that seizures were approximately 1/3 of the total produced – a figure, FWIW, accepted by NORML. If we assume this ‘90’s vintage estimate is accurate, 270,646 plants – 270,646 pounds – of pot weren’t seized. Even if we attribute part of the increased seizures to increased effectiveness, it’s still huge: If only half got to the consumer, that’s still 135,323 pounds of weed.

That’s somewhere between four tenths and eight tenths of an ounce for every citizen of Washington State.

If we assume an interdictive effectiveness of 33% in 2003, then the 66,521 plants seized in 2003 represented a market availability of 133,042 pounds. If we assume increasing interdictive effectiveness to 50% in 2005 – a huge increase that would be - market availability probably still held its own and may have slightly increased from 2003 to 2005…

And then there are the imports: In 2003 British Columbia reported eradicating 460,971 plants and seizing 8345 pounds of “processed marijuana.” An additional 10,575 pounds was reported seized at the Blaine and Sumas border crossings… That number is growing, too…

Nor is Washington unusual. While the availability of public lands makes Washington a popular place for outdoor growing, we’re hardly leading the charge. This is a nationwide phenomenon.

Lunacy. The literal definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over even though it doesn’t work. The ill-conceived war on drugs is lost, and only a blind prejudice more potent than any opium dream can explain our government’s obdurate insistence on continuing the debacle.

That $270 million could have been tax revenue, and the market wouldn’t have been affected in the slightest. Add in the savings of law enforcement resources, from cops to prisons, and then extrapolate that savings as opportunity cost if the funds were diverted to the interdiction of really dangerous drugs like meth.

How much is the pot jihad really costing us?

You know, maybe it’s the politicians who are secretly smoking all that pot… It would explain a lot…

As long as we have assett forfeiture the "war on drugs" will continue. It will continue to burden the criminal justice system and it will continue to corrupt law enforcement.
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